Editor & Publisher, Marcellus Drilling News (MDN)
The Chester County DA’s office is seriously ill with politics and it’s time for pushback. We have far too many rogue DA types already!
Why is the Chester County, PA District Attorney hell-bent on persecuting (i.e. prosecuting) security guards who have done nothing more than protect nutty environmentalists from hurting themselves at Mariner East 2 pipeline construction sites? Former Chester County, PA District Attorney Tom Hogan (RINO), and his successor Deb Ryan (Democrat) were 100% humiliated after a Chester County Magisterial District Judge in June dismissed the entire case against the local head of security for Energy Transfer in what the DA’s office lyingly calls a “buy a badge scheme.” Yet, the DA’s office is back harassing/charging the owner and an employee of a private security firm for the same thing.
In June, Judge John Bailey dismissed all 54 criminal counts against Frank Recknagel over his hiring of constables as off-duty security guards for the Mariner East pipeline project. The DA’s office tried to criminalize moonlighting for the pipeline. Now, in a new/different case, the Chester DA’s office is accusing two men–Richard Lester and James Murphy–of the same thing! They couldn’t get someone at Energy Transfer (the builder), so now they’re attacking one of the companies ET contracted with. This is sick stuff–a total abuse of power for political reasons.
Representatives of a Harrisburg-area security firm that allegedly broke rules when hiring state constables to work as guards along the Mariner East Pipeline project in Chester County have been held for trial on bribery and other criminal charges.
The Chester County District Attorney’s Office has accused the two men — Richard Lester and James Murphy — of operating a “buy-a-badge” scheme that improperly brought the constables to West Whiteland displaying the trappings of their office even though such officials are generally prohibited from doing so unless working for a court.
According to court documents, Lester, of Linglestown, is the registered owner of Raven Knights LLC, a Harrisburg-area security firm. Murphy, of Harrisburg, is listed as the operator of Raven Knights. Both Murphy and Lester are reportedly former state police troopers.
They are accused of hiring at least two men — Kareem Johnson of Coatesville and Michael Robel of Shamokin — to use their authority as constables to guard the pipeline.
The two were ordered bound over for trial in Common Pleas Court on Thursday after a preliminary hearings before Magisterial District Judge John Bailey. In addition to being charged with bribery, the pair are also facing charges of dealing in unlawful proceedings and conflict of interest.
In June, Bailey dismissed similar charges that had been filed against Frank Recknagel of Havertown, the head of security for Energy Transfer, the company that is building the controversial Mariner East project. He ruled that evidence showed Recknagel had not intended for the constables hired to work as security, through Raven Knights, to do so wearing their uniforms and badges.
The District Attorney’s Office is currently weighing whether to re-file charges against Recknagel, whose attorneys have said they believe he was targeted for prosecution by former District Attorney Tom Hogan because of political, rather than legal, reasons.
According to a criminal complaint filed in December 2019 by Chester County Detective Ben Martin, the enterprise was uncovered after Martin encountered the constables working the pipeline in West Whiteland, displaying their badges.
He began interviewing other constables working security for the pipeline. They told him they had been recruited by Murphy, that they had sent him their constable credentials to be hired, and they were paid with checks from the company. RavenKnights had been recruited for the enterprise by a second security firm, TigerSwan, based in North Carolina.
The criminal complaint lays out the scheme this way:
Energy Transfer contracted TigerSwan to provide security. TigerSwan’s owner, Michael Boffo, oversaw the constables, while another employee, Nikolas McKinnon, served as the contact between Energy Transfer and the constables. Murphy and Lester of Raven Knights directly hired the constables.
Mariner East is a series of pipelines that will transport hundreds of thousands of barrels of volatile liquid gases such as ethane, butane and propane across the full width of Pennsylvania, from the Marcellus Shale region to a facility in Marcus Hook. The route traverses 23 miles through the heart of central Chester County, and 11 miles of western Delaware County.
It has sparked heated opposition in the community and been plagued by a series of runoffs and spills, including a leak of thousands of gallons of construction mud into Marsh Creek Lake.
The constables, Johnson and Robel, are awaiting trial in Common Pleas Court.
When, not if, this whole case is tossed, the men falsely accused should turn around and sue the DA’s office and everyone connected with this political witch hunt. ET should fund the lawsuits for them. It’s time these sickos get a taste of their own medicine. Let’s bankrupt them.
Editor’s Note: I love it when Jim gets angry and demands justice. He’s 100% correct in his evaluation of what’s happening. There are way too many politicized DA types in this country, Josh Shapiro being another frightful example. It’s to recognize what they’re doing and publicly condemn it. I don’t like it when Republicans do or Democrats do it. It’s Stalinist tactics and it must be called out!
This post appeared first on Natural Gas Now.